Updates from March, 2009 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Akarsh Simha 5:41 pm on March 24, 2009 Permalink  

    Junior (and not-so-Junior) jobs for KStars 

    Want to contribute to open source and don’t know where to start? Like KStars, and don’t know how to start contributing? Here are some junior (and not-so-junior) jobs for KStars, to help you get started.


    So get hacking and get rocking!

    (This could also be “proving grounds” for SoC / season of KDE candidates.)

    Users and other developers are welcome to add ideas / tasks to that list! 🙂

  • Akarsh Simha 10:57 pm on March 22, 2009 Permalink  

    The Nerd Test I took today! 

    Gee, I’m happy:

    NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd King.  Click here to
take the Nerd Test, get geeky images and jokes, and write on the nerd


  • Akarsh Simha 4:09 am on March 22, 2009 Permalink  

    Quite a few bugs fixed, half-finished features polished, and patches commited 

    Today, I took time off to work on KStars after a long time. I had a lot of pending maintainance tasks that I needed to finish off, and I reserved Saturday for that.

    KStars now displays the Large Magellanic Cloud in the find dialog, and has the required backends to calculate comets’ tail lengths. Now, all we need is someone to give those comets a nice, realistic look ;-). Many thanks to Alexey Khudyakov, and Jain Basil Aliyas for their contributions. I had yet another interesting patch waiting to be commited, but unfortunately, Vipul Kumar Singh who sent in the patch forgot to add a few files to version control. Will blog about that when it arrives! 🙂

    I also got the KDE build environment running on my desktop, so that I can do more in lesser time – without having to boot my laptop. With academics taking the front seat, it is unlikely that I will have a lot of time on my hands for KStars for the next one year and so every minute matters! I have also updated the KStars GSoC ideas page – removed some lesser important ideas and added more details to some of those project ideas. We seem to have some really motivated SoC students waiting to work on those.

    Given that I will be coding infrequently for a while, it would be really nice if we had more contributors. I hope I will be able to chunk out some time to list out some junior jobs / pending tasks in KStars which would be really useful is completed. This might also be good proving grounds for GSoC aspirants.

    It’s rather satisfying to strike off a lot of pending tasks from your TODO list (in my case, that’s mails in my inbox!). Along with a good number of KStars tasks completed today, this week has been rather fruitful for me with a lot of academic backlog completed. I’m now roughly up-to-date with my General Relativity and Dynamical Systems courses. Within a week’s time, I should probably be done with all my backlog and start working on something exciting.

    Well, it’s time to get off the computer and get to the bed now! (I must thank Pradeepto for explaining that I shouldn’t be lazy to blog about progress in KStars.)

    • atomopawn 7:15 am on March 22, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      In my class for non-computer science majors I assign a paper which requires each student to compare a program running on Linux (or Mac) with a Windows program they use frequently. One of my students compare KStars with Stellarium and liked it a lot. It was interesting reading. I’m sorry to hear you are having trouble finding contributors. As a non-astronomer I’m very impressed with how easy it is to use. Thanks for the work you are putting into such a great application!

    • jospoortvliet 1:02 pm on March 22, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Pradeepto is right, it’s cool to read about the progress in KStars – it’s a lovely, high quality app.

      Good luck with the study!

    • Akarsh Simha 10:44 pm on March 23, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @atomopawn: That’s great to hear. If you have it handy, could you share that with me? I’d like to know what in KStars excites people! Thanks for the good words. KStars was mostly left in my hands in a very good shape, and Jason deserves more credit for it.

      @jospoortvliet: Thanks.

  • Akarsh Simha 5:25 am on March 12, 2009 Permalink  

    Blogging with weblogger – with images and math! 

    Back to weblogger.el

    I just realised the power of these amazing programmable editors, like emacs. Today evening, I decided to work a bit on productivity. I decided that there are a lot of things I should be blogging about, without wasting a lot of time on trying to sign into the javascript-heavy wordpress interface.

    Lot of the things I would like to blog about have images and math content. I thought it might be worth spending some time rigging up ELISP functions to automate some tasks – for instance posting formulae. Here’s some (dirty) code I wrote:

    Weblogger Helper Functions

    With these functions, I can quickly upload files to my “file” server (to which I have access via ssh) and link them into my blog. This way, I can quickly insert images, links to files on blog posts without bothering about having to upload them.

    Inserting links:

    M-x weblogger-insert-file
    [Type the filename in the minibuffer]
    [Wait till it gets uploaded...]

    The file is then uploaded and a link to it is inserted into the post.

    Inserting images:

    M-x weblogger-insert-image
    [Type the filename in the minibuffer]

    The file is uploaded and an <img…&rt; tag is inserted which pulls in the image.

    Inserting math

    With texdrive.el from here, and a few “wrapper” functions in my elisp file, it’s really easy to insert LaTeX formulae into my blogposts. All I need to do is M-x weblogger-insert-formula and enter my TeX formula and a title for it, and the function inserts an <img…&rt; tag into my post. As an example:

    M-x weblogger-insert-formula

    and then, in the minibuffer:

    Formula (TeX): T^{\mu \nu} = (p + \rho) u^{\mu} u^{\nu} - \eta^{\mu \nu}
    Title: Stress-Energy Tensor

    and the result is:

    <img src="http://members.bas.org.in/kstar/blog_files/stress-energy-tensor.png" title="Stress-Energy Tensor" class="texdrive-formula" alt="T^{\mu \nu} = (p + \rho) u^{\mu} u^{\nu} - p \eta^{\mu \nu}" border="0">

    Next, I do a M-x weblogger-upload-tex-images and the TeX formulae are automatically picked up from the buffer (by texdrive.el) and put through LaTeX and ImageMagick to produce a png, which my code then uploads to the server. So here’s the result:

    T^{\mu \nu} = (p + \rho) u^{\mu} u^{\nu} - p \eta^{\mu \nu}

    I’d be glad if somebody would like to improve the code. It’s licensed under the GPL.

    [Thanks to SG for pointing out that I had missed a ‘p’ factor in front of the Minkowski metric]

    HTH 🙂

    • Kumar Appaiah 2:10 am on March 12, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Totally awesome. Isn’t it satisfying to first minimize any non-keyboard input methods, and then, gradually, minimize the amount of keyboard use as well? 🙂

    • SG 6:03 am on March 12, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Nice to see the stress tensor for a perfect fluid as an example — it is missing a factor of p in front of \eta_{\mu\nu}. But what about the next set of corrections in the derivative expansion 🙂

    • Akarsh Simha 4:19 am on March 22, 2009 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      @KMap: Thanks for that. Yes, Emacs makes things a lot faster and saves a lot of time.

      @SG: Thanks, I fixed that. Looks like I’m going to start seeing the next set of corrections in the coming week.

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